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NATO Strike Kills Four Children, Karzai Says

Karzai: Afghanistan with Pakistan in US-Pak war

KABUL - Recent NATO operations in Afghanistan killed four children and left three civilians missing, President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday.

The children were herding their cattle on Saturday in Baraki Barak district of Logar province, around 50 kilometres south of Kabul, when they were killed by NATO troops, a statement by the palace said.

"Despite repeated pledges by NATO to avoid civilian casualties, innocent lives including of children are still being lost in fighting a terrorism whose havens and sanctuaries remain safe outside Afghanistan's borders," Karzai said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) acknowledged up to three civilians may have been killed.

"I offer my sincerest condolences to the families of the civilians that were killed," General John Allen, the commander of the NATO-led ISAF said in a statement.

Officers would meet with the families personally "to offer a condolence payment and express our deep regrets," he said.

Karzai also said three civilians were missing after a separate NATO operation in the southern province of Zabul.

"NATO forces conducted an operation at midnight of October 13 to detain an armed militant, and as a result the forces took away four civilians, three of whom still remain disappeared," he said.

ISAF official Jamie Graybeal said all the detainees were released "very quickly after the operation. We have no additional information about their current location."

"They were not taken to any coalition base. They were not held that long."

Also Tuesday, officials said five police officers and five soldiers were killed in a Taliban ambush of an aid convoy in the Obe district of the western province of Herat.

"Five police officers including the police chief for Obe district and five Afghan soldiers were killed," police official Noor Khan Nekzad said. Earlier reports said two police chiefs were killed.

"Several Taliban insurgents including their so-called district shadow governor for Obe, Mullah Shoaib were killed," Nekzad said.

The security forces had been dispatched to assist the convoy after it was attacked late Monday, said Abdul Rauof Ahmadi, provincial police spokesman.

Security forces arrested 20 suspected insurgents, including local commander Mullah Esmatullah, who was injured in the gunbattle, Nekzad said.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, ISAF said enemy-initiated attacks were down 4 per cent year-on-year for the period from January to September.

Attacks increased during May and June, but dropped since then, the coalition said in its monthly trend report released Tuesday.

However, in the Regional Command West, which covers Herat and three other provinces, enemy-initiated attacks increased by 32 per cent in the first nine months compared to same period last year.

The decreasing trend is positive and shows that Afghan forces are ready for transition, ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Gunter Katz told reporters Tuesday.

He added that 80 per cent of the enemy-initiated attacks take place in only 20 per cent of Afghanistan, Katz said.

"We have a small area where a lot of fighting is still taking place. And the area where most of the fighting takes place is Helmand province (Nahr-e-Saraj district) where 11 per cent of all enemy-initiated attacks take place," Katz said, adding that only 0.5 per cent of the Afghan population lives in the district.

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Hamid Karzai Afghanistan